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Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Herbs, Spices and a Holiday Sweetie!

Christmas is coming, the Geese are getting fat!  Well, I am not so sure about the Geese...but I always like to be a little extra careful about my health and the health of those around me at this time of year!  And every year it just seems so much easier to put on fat than it did the year before!  And, even though I hate to admit it, I LOVE cookies!  And jeez, I am not so sure how Santa would react if I left him some fat free granola, apple slices and soy milk.  I am sure the Reindeer would get the granola and apples slices and I could just see Santa hunting around for a potted plant to water with Soy milk.  So, let's not tempt Fate and go ahead and leave the good stuff for Santa and the Reindeer!  Cousin Sandra just informed me that the GOOD STUFF is the fat free granola, apple slices and Soy Milk!  (Who does she think she is fooling?  We are related after all!)

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There are quite a few really wonderful cooking magazines on the news stands now.  And another thing that I absolutely love are cooking magazines.  Actually, the photography fascinates me.  Well, my favorite cooking magazine is the Food Network Magazine www.foodnetmag.com .  It is crammed full of wonderful recipes, tips and stories about the Chefs that appear on the Food Network.  The December 2011 issue has a section called Food News and lo and behold....there is a small article titled....
might be good for you.
Go ahead and indulge: 
These ingredients come with
health benefits!
Yeah, right!

(Okay, to those of you who subscribe to this Blog, there are 8 of you and you know who you are!  My apologizes on the Blog not being finished!  Please bare with me.....I am not sure what button I pushed or what magic incantation I may have whispered inadvertently but the StarDragonfly Herbals computer in its infinite wisdom, PUBLISHED my unfinished blog!  Check back, uhhhh, maybe tomorrow and I should be finished!  Puzzled, Susan)

The first ingredient listed is Ginger.  The article says "Have a little gingerbread after hitting gym:  (Who are they kidding?)   A University of Georgia study shows that about 1/2 teaspoon of ginger can relieve post-workout muscle pain."  According to my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook....a batch of Gingerbread which is baked in a 9 x 11/2 inch round pan, only has 3/4 tsp. ginger in the recipe.   Uhhh, how long did you work out at the gym so that you can eat almost that whole pan of Gingerbread?  Not long enough, honey!

Instead try this:   Ginger Root Tea
Peel a 2 inch piece of fresh ginger root (Brookshires actually has Ginger Root in the produce section) and slice into thin slices. Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a saucepan. Once it is boiling, add the ginger. Cover it and reduce to a simmer for 15-20 minutes. Strain the tea. Add honey and lemon to taste.
Note: Keep in mind that if you are making ginger tea as a home remedy during cold and flu season, sweeteners are not recommended.

This tea is wonderful hot or iced.  It will be Spicy!  But, I love this tea with Honey.  I have even made this and put Green or Black Tea Bags in and let steep 3 minutes.  Four bags should do the trick.

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 Cinnamon....."New research shows that antioxidant rich spices like cinnamon can help keep your triglyceride levels low after eating high-fat foods." Food Network Magazine  Okay, I agree, but....you cannot  eat a big old buttery Cinnamon Roll and expect the cinnamon to work on your triglyceride levels. Taking as little as 1/2 tsp. a day of ground cinnamon has been shown to lower triglyceride levels. 

So, you need to be sprinkling Cinnamon on lots of things to get 1/2 tsp. daily!  Cinnamon is a pretty potent spice!  So, go ahead and sprinkle that Cinnamon on:  Your morning cereal, oatmeal, toast, yogurt or in your coffee.  Really, adding the Cinnamon to the grounds before brewing works best. Chai tea contains cinnamon and better yet, sprinkle some on sliced apples.  Okay, okay if you have to indulge in a cinnamon roll, go for it, or sprinkle some on your ice cream or in your eggnog.

Talk about Sweet!
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 Peppermint......."This herb has been a natural remedy for indigestion since the late 1600s and now we know why:  New research shows that peppermint activates an anti-pain reaction in the gut, soothing achy stomachs." Food Network Magazine  This is why the Restaurants keep a little bowl of those pretty mint candies by the door!

Using Peppermint is easy.....keep a pocketful of those little mint candies or drink a cup of mint tea.  Celestial Seasonings brand is always a good bet and easy to find.

Nutmeg..."Eating sweets doesn't have to lead to cavities:  Studies show that nutmeg can help prevent tooth decay, thanks to its antibacterial properties."  Food Network Magazine  Yes, nutmeg is a very interesting spice and I think I will give it a blog post of its own.  I am not so sure how much of the Food Network statement I believe.....put then again "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!"

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and last but not least......Cloves........"Of the 425 spices and herbs analyzed in a 2010 study, cloves had the highest concentration of antioxidants, which makes them the most effective at fending off cell-damaging free radicals."  Food Network Magazine

Ahhh, my work here is done.  Now you may go about your holiday baking knowing that you are adding anti-oxidants, cavity fighting qualities, and pain relieving properties to your kitchen creations. If you can figure out how to leave out all the sugar and fat.....well, let me know.  Because I don't think you can create a really yummy cookie without BUTTER and SUGAR!  Until we meet again in cyberspace....Spicely yours, Susan.

Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap!
Robert Fulghum in 1987 at Middlebury College

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